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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  April 15, 2019 4:30am-5:01am BST

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this is the briefing. i'm sally bundock. tiger woods has made our top story: an extraordinary sporting comeback — by winning the masters title at agusta. tiger, tiger burning bright. it's the american's fifteenth woods wins the masters — major golfing title — his first major victory his last was the us in more than a decade. open eleven years ago. woods‘s victory sees him return from years of injuries and personal scandals. a powerful tornado's ripped my mom was here. through a small town in texas — she was there in ‘97 as well leaving many people injured. so i couldn't be more it damaged at least 20 buildings and left 4,000 people happy and more excited. without power. i'm kind of at a loss there were no fatalities but two children died elsewhere in the state after a tree fell for words, really. on their family car. the bbc learns more about the drone incident that caused chaos for thousands at one finland's social democratic party of britain's busiest airports. finland faces tough coalition has declared a narrow victory in sunday's general election. talks after a split poll its leader, antti rinne, is set to become the country's first left—wing prime minister in 20 years. his centre—left party won a0 seats in parliament, one more than the far—right, anti—immigration finns party. now on bbc news,
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stephen sackur speaks to french writer edouard louis on hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sackur. every so often a writer emerges with a voice so original, distinct, even strong that it is heard far beyond the confines of the book—buying public. so it is with my guest today — edouard louis, who has produced overall, account of his own life in a working—class town in the north of france five years ago. since then, he has written two more books, one from his own experience of class discrimination, homophobia and violence and a fractured france. it's tempting to see him as the voice now of the generation. his anger, the fuel that propels him. welcome.
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thank you very much. you were born and raised in a working—class town in the north of france. you escaped as a teenager to make a new life but it seems to me ever since then, you've been in a sense, faced with an impulse to go back, to make sense of your own past. yeah, because, you know, i have the feeling that while i was living my
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childhood, i wasn't understanding it. i was living kind of next to my childhood, as a child. it's only when i took a distance with my past that i was suddenly able to understand it. for example, as a child, as i describe in my last book, i hated my father because i thought that he was a bad person because of his homophobia. because of his violent urges, because of his violent behaviours. and it's only when i left the place that i was able to understand that his behaviour, what it was saying to me is, his behaviour towards gay people, towards women and everything was conditioned by something bigger than him. by social force, by his place in the world. and it took for me a long time to understand it so really, yes i come back in order to understand what i didn't understand as a child. interesting. because this, as you say, you've written most recently about your father and the sort of political context in which your father lived, his working—class, very difficult life, but your first book, called the end of eddy, was a ferociously honest, raw, painful sort of uncovering of all the terrible things that happened to you as a child
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in hallencourt, this small community in the north of france. i'm just wondering if your own family and people in that place are so angry about what you exposed and wrote about, that they don't want you back. it's kind of difficult because for me, to fight for someone, to fight for some people, to fight for a category of people, doesn't mean flattering these people. doesn't mean that they are better, that they are good, that they are authentic. and i think there was a very old—fashioned tradition, a traditional way of talking about the working class and presenting the working class as better people, more authentic, more funny, compared to the bourgeoisie who are playing roles and being hypocritical and everything. but what i wanted to show and what i wanted to say is that i can fight for someone like my father and at the same time
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i can say he's an homophobic person and that he was voting for the far right his whole life, because it was true. it was what he was doing. and for me there is a problem when we start mixing love and politics. as if fighting for someone meant to say this person is lovable. for me, it has nothing to do... when you fight against violence, you fight against objective violence, no matter if the people are good or not, no matter if they deserve it or not. you talk about your father's homophobia, and clearly your sexuality, your identity was at the heart of the way you felt different from such a young age, to pretty much everybody else that you were associated with in that small town. now, it's a difficult subject. but you described homophobia that was constant, that was both physically violent and mentally abusive. at what point did you first realise in yourself that you were gay?
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it happened immediately, as soon as i was born i understood that i was different. and other people around me including my family, my milieu, were making me understand that i was different and the story that i recount in this book, the story of the relationship with my father, is the story of an impossible relationship because i grew up in this milieu where masculiity, and the value of masculinity, of strength, was so strong and i was born a gay boy in this milieu. so as soon as i was born, my father and me, we couldn't talk together. he was telling me, "why are you like this? why are you so effeminate? why are you attracted by boys? why are you like this? you are bringing shame on our family." and so, as soon as my life started, this impossibility emerged, kind of immediately, and i...
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but if i may interrupt for a second, what instersts me is your honesty about the degree to which you didn't want this identity. you didn't, in many ways, want to be gay, you were abused constantly and you reacted to that by trying your very hardest to be a guy, to be tough, to be macho like everybody else. yeah, i wanted to fit in. my dream was to fit in, and when i started to recount this story, when i started to write about this story, i wanted to kind of break free from the myth of the different child, the kind of billy elliott, the wonderful kid in the media where people are not wonderful. and what i wanted to show is that, i was just a child who wanted to be like anyone else. and my father was telling me, "why are you different? you are bizarre, why are you like this?" and my dream was to fit in. my dream was to be masculine, my dream wasn't to be something else, you know? at some point i had to escape because i felt that i had no choice. because it was my
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only way to survive. but before you escaped, perhaps for readers, some of the most shocking passages in your first book, the memoir of your childhood, the passages concern, in a sense, your complicity with the violence against you. for example, there are two kids in your school in the small town who repeatedly, day after day, beat you up. and they also humiliate you in a dozen different ways, which i don't even want to go into, they are so painful to even remember. but you didn't hide from those kids. in fact, you sort of, agree to meet them every day in a corridor so that could easily do it to you all over again. no, because the thing is, what i was scared of, i was scared they would beat me up in the middle of the school in front of everyone else so i would hide,
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so they could beat me up in a secret place when no—one would see us. because for me, i was ashamed of being insulted, the shame of being insulted was maybe even worse than the insult. i was ashamed of saying "i suffer". it's a more general thing, it also works on a class issue during my childhood, a lot of people were going though poverty. they were going through misery, were going through very difficult things, they would very rarely say, "i suffer" because they were ashamed of suffering. because of the dominant class, because the government always make poor people believe that if they suffer it's because of them. that they are responsible... that it's their own fault. exactly. they didn't work enough, they didn't study enough, so at the end what is created? it creates a situation in which people who suffer don't want to say, "i suffer" anymore. so that's why i write books. i write books because i want to offer people a space in which they feel safe to say, "i suffer." i want to get to the politics that came to you as you thought about what had happened
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to you through childhood and adolescence, because politics is very important to you, but before we get there, i actually want to keep this personal for a moment longer because i'm intrigued to know, as you have written so intrusively, intimately and intrusively, about your mother and father, your siblings, your widerfamily and community, do you feel any sense of responsibility for the hurt you have caused them and for some of the damage that you appear to have done to some of them by talking about the neglect, the abuse, the intimidation, the violence that was a part of your daily life? no, you know, it was part of my story too, it was part of my personal history so not saying what it meant to me, not talking about my past or my own experience, i didn't want to stop because of that. and you know, when i write, i think i write for gay people,
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i write for working class in general, i write for people who suffer. i don't write to please my mother or my father, i don't like to be... for me it's much more important to think this way. and in fact... if i may, what about personal relationships? i mean, your mother was furious apparently, after the first book came out because, apart from anything else, you portrayed her life as so poor and she rejected the notion that she was truly as poor as you had portrayed. and your brother for example, who comes out of the book pretty badly. one of your brothers, you say that he later came to paris looking for you with a baseball bat. this suggests to me that your family relationships are extraordinarily difficult. no, in a way, in fact it changed. at the beginning it was very difficult for my mother but it's exactly like you say, i saw my mother at that time when i published eddy, my first book about my childhood, my mother told me, "why do you say we are poor?" and for me it was very striking because in the book i talk about the racism, the homophobia, the masculine domination but the most shocking thing for my mother was that i was saying
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that she is poor. and as i was saying before, she is ashamed of that. she doesn't want people to say that she is poor because she's afraid people will put the responsibility on her shoulderfor that. and afterwards we started to talk again and when i wrote a book on my father, it's prceisely because after i published my two first novels, one day my father called me and told me, i want to see you again. i miss you and i'm proud of you, i'm proud of what you have done and at that time we weren't speaking for like, five years. five years of silence. and so, the relationship was much more complex than what the french media try to make you believe. this book, who killed my father? is really an explanation in your terms of how the system killed, i mean not killed
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because he's still alive, but damaged your father. he was a working class man who worked in a factory, was injured at work, he could no longer work and the government withdrew his benefit so he had to go back as a street sweeper onto the street. your contention seems to be that not just him but a whole swathe of working—class people have basically been profoundly damaged by the system. you're saying the way the economic system works, the working class, it is impossible for the poorest people in france to make anything of themselves. at least it's extremely difficult. and as you were saying, when my father was 35 years old, he had an accident at the factory, something fell on him and it destroyed his back. so for years he was in bed, he wasn't able to move, he wasn't able to walk, and then he slowly started to walk again and at that moment, the french state through the french
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administration told him, you have to go back to work or you will lose your welfare. it was either, you go back to work in spite of your disastrous health and you will destroy it even more, or we take the welfare from you. so it's either you die, or you die. it's what is going on everywhere. it's the same thing in great britain with the working class, there was a wonderful movie about that called daniel blake in which a man was sick, he was sick from his life, he was sick because because he was a poor man. he is forced to go back to work in spite of his health. this is of course, structural history, it's collective history, and so i write in order to fight against that and to fight for people like my father, not only my father but these people in general. is it not also a dehumanising way of looking at working—class people whether it be in britain or france? because you're essentially saying they have no agency. it is impossible for such people to make better lives for themselves. i don't say that they have no agency, i say the system is withdrawing the agency.
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so what i'm saying is not that they don't have agency, what i'm trying to articulate is how is it possible to give these people the agency again. the freedom, what does it mean, agency, when someone was destroyed by an accident at a factory like my father? he is not able to do what he wants, he is not able to work like he wants, so of course there are situations and conditions in which the system takes the agency from the people. if we say that the migrants are dying in the mediterranean and that we have to help them, it's not saying they have no agency it's saying that europe is not welcoming them and letting them die. sure, i understand that. but you, at times, seem to be providing excuses for brutality, abuse, for all forms of discrimination. and going back to your home town, you seem to be saying that many of these people even the two thugs who brutalised you at school can only be explained in terms of their, sort of, class status. the oppression that the system put upon them.
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isn't that simply giving them excuses for individually terrible behaviour? no, what i try to do is to understand why they do like this. it doesn't mean to excuse it, you know. like, i don't like this child who was picking on me during my whole childhood because it was gay. no, i could say that i hate them, you know. but for me, once again, love and understanding are nothing to do with each other. i can try to understand the situation, even if i don't necessarily have personal empathy for the people in this situation. right, but how do you explain that while two kids spat upon you and beat you up every single day, the vast majority of kids in your school, who were just as poor and working—class as those two, did not do it. you know, surely you then have to consider a whole bunch of individual circumstances and factors, which sit outside your structural deterministic view of how society works. mm—hmm. no, you are right.
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but i know that other people were not doing that and i'm glad. but for me it's less interesting to write about them. it's more interesting to write about the problem and the issues and the issues of violence. there were people who were not violent, but for me it's less interesting to write about it. i truly believe that all the big very important political movements, all the very important writers in the 20th century talked about violence and in talking about violence they were, like, undoing it. like, feminism was a statement about violence. we're saying as a woman you are a victim of violence. antiracist movement was a statement about violence. saying, as a black person, as a person of colour, you suffer from violence. and in talking about violence we somehow succeed in undoing it, you know. so that's what i try to do in my books. when i talk about the most violent situation it's because i truly believe that the more we talk about violence and the more we have a chance to undo it. and so the other people, i let them be, i let them exist. let's talk about your association
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with the gilets jaunes, the yellow vest movement. some have called your most recent book, who killed my father, as a sort of, in a sense, a manifesto for the gilets jaunes. it expresses some of the anger at the system which we see on the streets with the gilets jaunes. are you right behind that form of street protests? even the burning down of banks and shops? you know, like, i wrote this book one year and a half before the gilets jaunes movement started. it was published one year before the movement really started. so it's not really a manifesto, but probably because of my background and because of my body, because of experiences, i was sensing some things that the gilets jaunes are now expressing, which is this a sense of violence, social exclusion, the discrimination against poor people, against working—class people. and also the fact that for poor people, politics is a very intimate thing.
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so in talking about my father, for example, i talk about the day my father met my mother, i talk about his relationship with me, and also i talk about the political decision made by sarkozy or macron, and what i try to say and what i try to address is that for my father a political decision is as intimate as his first kiss. people very often say that we have to make the personal political and i'm doing the opposite. i'm showing that the political is intimate and personal. and so, for example, if you are a migrant in germany, where angela merkel said that she would welcome i million migrants and if you have your sister or your brother, one day in the mediterranean, because this person will be welcome into germany, this is part of your personal history, this is part of your intimate history, the fact that you are not going to lose the person you love, that you are not going to lose your brother... i mean, surely that's angela merkel pursuing a policy which you say
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was humane and saved lives. and she is, of course, a product of mainstream politics. but your message in france is that mainstream politics has utterly failed the working class, the poor of your nation, of france. and you seem to ignore the fact that amongst the gilets jaunes in recent weeks we have seen examples of outright violence, we've seen racism, we've seen homophobia, taunting of gay people, of black people, of muslims. you had your own life blighted by such horrible abuse and discrimination and now you to be forgiving it from the gilets jaunes. no, no, i'm very sensible to these things. because as a gay man, for me, it's very important. but also the things — for me it's two separate things. if there are some racist people among the lgbt movement, for example, i am part of the lgbt movement. i am demonstrating for lgbt people very often, but if there are racist people among the lgbt movement
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you won't say we have to fight against the lgbt movement, you will say we have to fight against racism, you know. if there are some racist people among the feminist movement, what we have to say is we have to fight against racism, not we have to fight against feminism, you know. and so why does it work this way for poor people? it works only when it's poor people that we are talking about. we say there is some anti—semitism, which exists, there are some forms of homophobia in the yellow vest movement so we have to fight against the yellow vest movement, we have to fight against poor people, no, we have to fight against anti—semitism, we have to fight against racism. but it doesn't mean we that we cannot support these claims of the yellow vest for more equality, for a better life, for better... it is thisn point about the raw populist politics, which the gilets jaunes always was from the very beginning. you have dismissed the whole political elite class in france
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from the socialist hollande, to the centre ground macron, to the centre—right chirac. you've dismissed them all. you say they're all not interested in helping the working class of france. you want a more populist politics, but my contention is there is a deep danger with populist politics that it can be manipulated. no, i'm not talking about populist politics. i'm talking about, like, more equality and i'm talking about the ability to think, at the same moment, the struggle against homophobia and the struggle for poor people and the struggle against anti—semitism and the struggle for people of colour. and what i really try to do is to try to articulate all of these together and not dismiss poor people in saying there are some racist there are some anti—semitic people. because it's two completely different struggles, you know. and that's why i'm supporting this movement from the very beginning. you know, when the yellow vest movement emerged the things that people were saying, things like — i cannot pay my rent, i cannot feed my child, you know,
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soon it will be christmas and i'm not able to buy gifts for my children for christmas. and so for me it was emergence of reality, finally, within the political field, you know. and of course this emergence of truth comes with ugly violent things like homophobia and everything, but we can fight for both and against one and for the other one at the same time. i guess the interesting thing is that you have made a better life for yourself in the france of today. you began life as eddy bellegueule, the working—class kid from the north of france. and today you're edouard louis, who lives in france, a successful writer. you made it. do you have a strong sense of your own identity today? do you feel working—class or middle—class? no, i'm clearly not working—class anymore because i escaped. and i would be very naive and i would be almost violent and it would be lying to say, oh, i'm a working—class — still a working—class boy. but it's precisely because i escaped that i want to fight for people
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who didn't get the chance to escape, you know. that would be so hurtful to say, look, i did it, i'm happy, everything is fine. you escaped, but have you arrived somewhere else? do you now have a sense of belonging somewhere else? i'm a little bit in between everything. that's why i use the fact that i changed my milieu in order to have a different look at society, at what is going on. and i am objectively, i mean in terms of social structure, i'm part of the dominant class. but the fact that i come from the working class, i use it in order to undo the dominant class, to challenge the dominant class. and to show the violence they are producing against poor people, against people like my mother, against people like my father, and against the working class in general. so, really, i try to be in between in order to be the more just, the more fair that i can be. edouard louis, it's been a pleasure to have you on hardtalk. thank you. thank you very much indeed.
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thank you so much. thank you. hello. it has been a largely dry weekend. there's been a bit of sunshine, but it's also felt pretty chilly for this time of year. this was the scene taken on sunday in gosport in hampshire. so some blue skies, some sunshine. but we've had quite a chilly breeze and temperatures have been below par for the middle of april. as we move through this week, still some sunny spells, still some dry weather on the cards. things will be gradually turning warm over the next few days. it won't stay completely dry. we have got a weather front moving in from the west. but higher pressure sitting across scandinavia is really winning out at the moment. we've still got quite a cool breeze blowing around that area of high pressure.
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so the winds coming in from the east of the south—east, but milder air not far away. that will be more of a player later this week. now, we start off monday morning still on quite a cold note. could be a touch of frost in the countryside, with temperatures below freezing in a few spots. through the day, though, lots of sunshine for many areas. not everywhere. particularly in the west, we've got more cloud. outbreaks of patchy rain for parts of northern ireland, west wales, the south—west of england. also a bit cloudier for the east coast of england and eastern scotland with a few spots of drizzle. temperatures just 8 degrees or so in aberdeen. in the sunnier spells, 13 or 14 celsius. a little warmer than it has been through the course of the weekend. through the week ahead, eventually we wave goodbye to the blue colours and we welcome in a return to this much milder and a drifting up from the south. bringing that increase in the temperature. it won't be dry everywhere on tuesday. because we've got a weak front which isjust lingering through the irish sea, bringing some patchy rain to the west of scotland, northern ireland, wales, and the south—west of england. either side of that cloud and rain, we'll see some drier weather with some sunshine.
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temperatures in the warmer spots up to 15. still rather cool around some of those exposed north sea coasts. moving on into the middle of the week, wednesday could start with a little bit of patchy mist, particularly for wales, the south—west of england. that should clear. a bit of patchy cloud here and there. all in all a dry and fine day. the top averages up to 17 or 18 in the south, even the mid—teens further north. certainly a bit of a warmer spell of weather. that warmer drier theme continues into thursday does a warmer spell. so we've got a gentle breeze coming in from the south—east. just the chance of an isolated shower. but i think for the vast majority of places it is dry and bright. and we could well see 19 or 20 celsius by the time we get to thursday, particularly in the south. even further north those temperatures in the mid or even the high teens. so doing well for the time of year. and it looks like the mostly dry warm weather continues with the easter weekend, just the chance of light rain in the far north—west. bye for now.
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